Author's Diction~Vipin Behari Goyal: Immanence and Transcendence in Literature

Friday, June 10, 2016

Immanence and Transcendence in Literature

When there is no belief in soul, there is very little drama.

~Flanner O'Connor

Thomas Hardy and Edmund Husserl (wiki)

Immanent means 'indwelling' or 'inherent'. Beauty is not something imposed, but something immanent — Anthony Burgess. Spinoza and Husserl, who influenced Wordsworth, Shelley, George Eliot and Beckett gave signs of the Theory of Immanence. Edmund Husserl was of the view that realities must be treated as pure phenomenon. Everything that is not immanent to consciousness must be ruled out.  There is no fundamental substrate reality other than what it appears to us. Thus, sign for the object and the object itself are perhaps one and the same thing. Likewise, Spinoza says the sign is immanent to substance. The implication of this postulate on English literature is taking us in a new direction, where, despite the philosophy the story would be interesting. Literature would incorporate political. Scientific and social advancement in the core to present an expanded homogenous vision of the universe.

 The effect is inherent in the cause. The interpretation of the effect is limited by comprehension and stands at an uncertain point in time and space. To establish certainty we must ignore everything that is beyond our immediate experience. Transcendence is extra objective experience. It is possible due to the causal link between objective immanence and transcendence. In Swastika (Hindu Sign), there is a juxtaposition of immanence and transcendence. The horizontal line represents the immanent which results in “Knowing” and vertical line represents transcendence which results in “Being”.

Thomas Hardy had a conflict of fatalism and determinism in his work. The elements and unstructured forces of nature are unscrupulously appropriated and misused by man. God created country man created town. William Patrick has explored the extraordinary out of the ordinary  in the Tree of Man. The woman is a dangerous natural force and is potentially violent. She represents male inadequacies and fears and in future would shape the destiny of our planet by Immanent Will. 'Immanent will' manifest itself in many ways. Woman is one of them.

Nature acts as setting for those who live a life in perfect harmony with it. The Light, Inertia and Action are the three elements of nature according to Indian philosophy. They have a tendency towards harmony and balance. When we become an instrument of imbalance, the nature plays the role of actor and restores the balance at our cost. Not only one gets what he deserves, but deserves what he gets.

When a writer is in harmony with nature, he does not make any effort to reflect divinity in his work. The divinity pervades the entire cosmos and it automatically transcends into his work. The extraordinary emerges out of the ordinary. And the reader may have extra objective transcendental experience which writer had while writing the book. Life and Death are part of the same 'plane immanence' (Deleuze) so it is not necessary to conclude a story.

Existence of Moral Universe leads to Immanent Justice. Every negative experience is punishment for prior misdeeds. Prior may also mean the prior birth. Plato believed in the Myth of Er in the conclusion of the Republic. This is an account of 'afterlife' experiences of a soldier who died in a war. Hermeneutics sees “interpretation as a circular process whereby the valid interpretation can be achieved by a sustained, mutually qualifying interplay between our progressive sense of the whole and our retrospective understanding of its component parts”. Can we presume that human intellect is progressive? Exposure to knowledge does not sharpen the intellect. The author's intent is not immanent since it has determinants and the reader must experience the inner life of the text to understand and interpret it. Thus, all interpretation would be relative.

Immanent may remain dormant and fossilised as a perspective for a long time and may reveal and manifest itself in an encounter. It may take other centuries when that perspective will be socially acceptable.

If literature is examined and interpreted through the lens of immanence, a new kind of divine message can be read which could shape our destiny.


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©  Vipin Behari Goyal